Around the LeagueState of the Rangers

New Emphasis on Experience?

Rangers fans for years, clamoured for a re-build. Fans wanted home grown players to provide the core. Well, Rangers fans got their wish. Next season, while the team will be led offensively by expensive free agents like Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, the team will be a vastly home grown one.  However this year’s free agency period (but not exclusively evidenced by free agents) has shown a new, greater emphasis on experience throughout the league. Teams are looking to add experience even if it costs them good quality prospects and draft picks. More than ever, teams are looking to win now.

If you are lucky your team will have done it the right way; build a core and add to it. This is what the Rangers have done. They have added 3 cup winners this off season by retaining Fedotenko, recruiting Mike Rupp and winning the Richards sweepstakes. 2 of those players have scored cup winning goals and Richards is a Conn Smythe winner – impressive experience. We recently discussed the differences (and similarities) between the Rangers the Bruins. One of the things we identified was the extra playoff experience the Bruins enjoyed. This summer, the Rangers addressed that. However it is a growing trend around the league.

Example 1: San Jose

The Sharks have been a cup contender for several years and their better players are getting older. Is the Sharks’ window to win closing? With a core in place the Sharks gave up some serious youth when they traded the likes of top prospect Charlie Coyle and young winger Devin Setoguchi to bring in Brent Burns and earlier this week they moved Danny Heatley to acquire Martin Havlat. The Sharks also added veterans such as Michael Handzus and have prioritised the experience Burns and Handzus bring over having patience in waiting for kids like Coyle to arrive. Is this win now?

Example 2: Washington

If you’re a Capitals fan you probably feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. The Caps had a stable of young goaltenders but like San Jose, seemingly began to crave experience over youth. Luckily for the Caps they too benefit from a great core so the risk of prioritising experience over youth is less. Having bagged a surprising return of picks for young goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the re-building Avalanche, the Caps went out and added veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun for the bargain rate of $1.5m. Vokoun gives them a huge upgrade in experience and skill at a position of need for the Caps. The Caps however already began to crave more veteran presence last season when they added Jason Arnott at the deadline while they also acquired Marc Sturm and Scott Hannan – all experienced players.

There are several examples throughout the league to evidence that more than ever experience is back in fashion and highly sought after. Veterans are not an afterthought but are becoming a priority. Simon Gagne is taking his impressive career and big game experience to ambitious LA for two years, Chicago looked for some experience and added it in Andrew Brunette, the Pens added veteran presence with Steve Sullivan, while the Florida Panthers went crazy and added some quality, plenty of quantity and a lot of experience with players such as Ed Jovanovski, Jose Theodore and Tomas Fleischmann.

It seems the Rangers may be at the forefront of an increasing trend in the league but most importantly, thanks to a solid few years building they are doing it the right way. They’re following a successful blue print. The Rangers have a core in place, they have several more talented picks on their way in the system but have now added crucial experience as they look to take the next step. Hopefully they take that next step next season.


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  • “The Rangers have a core in place, they have several more talented picks on their way in the system but have now added crucial experience as they look to take the next step.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!!!

    • Facts are facts! The Rangers have gone about the process the right way over the past 6 years and this coming season we should see a big step forward. I’m not expecting a cup parade next June but I’m expecting a good seed/regular season placing and I’m expecting at least one round won in the playoffs. It’s well within this team’s grasp.

      Next season is the next step on the road to contending consistently.

  • It’s too early to tell what this Rangers team is capable of. Last year if we have Cally for the playoffs we could have put up a better fight. If cally dubi anisimov progress and Gaborik revamps his game with Richards on his line there’s no telling where this team can go. Plus our defense is much better this year than last. And we all know we have all the goaltending we’ll need to win a cup.

    • I think this team has depth and has just added significant skill. Not much (looking to the future) not to like.

      Only real concern I have is if MDZ doesn’t rebound from last yr. In that scenario they’d have to look to get another genuine puck mover into the organisation as Erixon sounds more like a good two way D-man with a nice shot than a true out and out offensive blueliner.

  • Next Year is the Next step to “WIN AT HOME”!!!

    They played great on the road last year. They won against playoff teams one night, and lost to the weaker teams time and time again.

    I thought last year was one of the best playoffs I’ve ever watched. After the Rangers were out, you start watching other teams more closely. Tampay Bay, Detroit, Vancouver and several others, there talant was a step ahead of the Rangers. Their puck posession into the offensive zone, wasn’t dump and chase like the Rangers played most of the year. Their Power plays were ever changing and fun to watch, they scored goals, in a number of different ways.

    Bringing Richards in we are hoping to increase the power play goal percentage, and it should. Even if it’s 10 more power play goals, that could easily be 10 more wins last year.

    We all have high hopes now that our team is better personality wise, but they still have to play the games.

    It WILL be a great year to be a RANGER fan!!!

    • Great points dude. I did the same and you’re right – other teams played better WITH the puck, they showed what an effective PP could do. Both reasons why Richards was so heavily courted as he can impact both issues. The team needs to show more on the puck even if its just the top line.

      Let the bottom 6 dump and chase and the skill guys, let them flash the skill. That was one of my few issues with Torts last year. While Gabby was poor, he certainly wasn’t allowed (or so it seemed) to play to his skill set.

  • My four favorite games last year:
    1) Stepan getting a hat trick in his first game. Nothing like starting off on the right foot.

    2) Coming from behind in Pittsburg on the road, to win a game we shouldn’t have won.

    3) Down by 3 to come back and beat Boston in the 3rd period.

    4) Beating the Devils game 82 at MSG (My first game in NY @ MSG) and getting into the playoffs on the last day.

    Something tells me their will be more games like above. Alot more games. You don’t have to be the top seed to win the Cup, but you need top end talent to get you there first!!!

  • Great post. I think you nailed it on the head. Ultimately if this team is going to take the next step they are going to have to show they can score in different ways.

    I would like to see a little less dump and chase and a little more scoring off of transition rushes. Richards should help facilitate this. But having MDZ step up is just as important.

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